Grants & Contracts

Writing Grant Proposals

Susan attributes her success in writing grant proposals to paying attention. “You have to get inside the funder’s head,” says Susan, “and understand what they are really looking for. You have to carefully read and understand the funder’s mission and goals, and figure out how to make your funder successful, then put that in your application.

“You may think you want the money to accomplish one of your big goals, but if you are not accomplishing the funder’s goals, you won’t be successful.”

Marina Technology Cluster Funding

From 2003 to 2013, Susan was the director of the Marina Technology Cluster, a business incubator on the former Fort Ord, owned by the City of Marina. To fund the startup work of the incubator, Susan was able to garner Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) money that came to the state to help low-income individuals. Over the years, she was awarded approximately $4 million in CDBG funds for the operations of the incubator. 

Project 17 Monterey Bay

Dovetailing Technology into Agriculture

In 2010, an RFP to create a regional innovation cluster came across Susan’s computer desktop. Under Barak Obama, the Federal Government and the Small Business Administration were promoting innovation clusters, regional clusters of businesses working for the same general industry. Silicon Valley is the most famous innovation cluster, where the entire economy of the region, from mom & pop printing shops to PR agencies to law firms to universities focus on new technologies.


When the RFP for the clusters appeared, Susan and team had been mentoring startups in the Marina Technology Cluster on the former Fort Ord near Monterey, California, for 8 years. Susan figured many of the mentoring, projects, team building and leadership that had been put in place with the incubator could be easily folded into the response to the government’s RFP. 

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Susan wrote the response as the creation of a regional innovation cluster of technology startups from San Jose and Santa Cruz dovetailing technology into the behemouth ag indrustry of the Salinas and Pajaro Valleys of Central California. Innovations included software and hardware for crop and worker statistics and tracking as well addressing the wicked farming issues of water and workforce. Susan solicited and received letters of support from a plethora of agencies and institutions in the region, many of which she already had on her advisory board. Susan won one of 10 contracts awarded out of 85 responses nationwide to the governments RFP, receiving $1.2 million over a two-year period.

In addition, over the 10 years Susan managed and directed the Marina Technology Cluster, she secured more than $2.5 million in grants for the incubator.

Manzanita Writers Press

Manzanita Writers Press is a non-profit literary arts organization that has been serving writers of prose and poetry in California’s Gold Country in the Sierra foothills east of San Francisco for nearly 40 years. Manzanita holds several writing workshops a month for writers of prose and poetry and publishes 5 to 7 books a year. It also publishes an anual anthology of the work of its resident writers and holds a “Gold Rush Writers Conference" in Mokolumne Hill in Calaveras County.

In 2022, Susan has secured $25,000 in funding for Manzanita from California Humanities and a smaller amount from the Calaveras County Community Foundation. She is currently working on a grant application for $50,000 for two years from CLMP (Community of Literary Magazines and Presses.) 

© Susan Barich 2022